Intimacy Through Prayer
Posted on March 8, 2018
by John Paul Jackson
How often do you sit down and take the time to remember the love of God?
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). He then went out and did what He said. He showed His love—He gave a tangible, solid demonstration of His heart. He is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). He is the friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19), laying down His life for us before we were holy, when we had nothing to our names but sin. We were His enemies when He lay down on that cross, ready for the nails, but on that cross, He made us His friends.
Love is willing to lay down its life, as Jesus revealed. Love looks like laughing delight and unspeakable joy, but it also can look like sacrifice. Jesus gave His disciples an invitation in John 15: 14-15:
“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
He extends the same invitation to you and me. This call to obedience isn’t just a call to give love to others—but to trust in God’s love for us. A huge part of our obedience to His Word means knowing His love and trusting it.
THE HEART OF PRAYER
God desires intimacy with you. He desires communion and communication. He desires commitment, friendship, love, and action. These aspects of your relationship with Him must increase, or your relationship will eventually decrease. You are never in neutral with God. You will not stay the same, and neither will your relationship with Him. If you’re not moving forward, you will move backward. I tell people that if they’re in the same place spiritually they were five years ago, they better think through some things. Change needs to happen, and it probably is not God who needs to change.
Abraham J. Heschel, a Jewish theologian from the 20th century, said, “Prayer does not change God; prayer changes the pray-er.” If you want to know His love more, it is imperative to develop an effective prayer life.
For the last few months, I’ve written about Lectio Divina, a life-changing way of praying Scripture. You meditate on a particular passage and wait for God to give you greater understanding about it. The purpose of this type of prayer is not just to establish relationship with God but to strengthen a relationship that already exists. I’ve noticed that the more I pray in this manner, meditating on His Word, the more of myself I am able to hand over to Him. At first I was able to hand over only five minutes of myself to Him. I might have spent an hour in prayer, but it all boiled down to about five minutes of concentrated “good stuff.” But the more I have employed Lectio Divina, the more often it ends up being an hour or more of offering all of me to the Father. Imagine that! You end up giving God an hour of your full attention, not just five minutes boiled down.
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” The result of an ever-growing, ever-deepening relationship with God allows you to call on Him, and He will show you things you didn’t know before. That is a promise. When you set your heart on Him and humbly choose to seek Him out, He hears you.
Daniel was told, “From the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard” (Daniel 10:12). Remind yourself who He is—and remind yourself who you are: His beloved.
To find out more about entering the intimacy of God, check out Passage to Intimacy.
The Art of Praying the Scriptures book, CD-Set, and Study Card are all valuable tools that will help prepare you to pray God’s Word back to him. The book contains 175 pages of practical instruction on the process of meditating on and praying God’s word and it includes some of John Paul’s favorite Scripture verses. The 2-CD Set goes deeper into this teaching with John Paul sharing several stories and anecdotes.
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